The postseason starts tonight for your Iowa Hawkeye basketball team, and we’re playing in familiar territory at the friendly confines of Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the first round of the NIT.
Iowa’s opponent is none other than the fiercely-loathed South Dakota Coyotes. We don’t know much about South Dakota, so let’s take this time to familiarize ourselves with the foes from not so far north.
Get to know the ‘Yotes
South Dakota comes in to this one with a 22-11 record, and a first-place finish in the Summit League. South Dakota fell in the second round of the Summit League Tournament to eventual champion South Dakota State, which earned a 16-seed and the right to play Gonzaga.
South Dakota’s schedule ... wasn’t that great. Their opponents include “Doane” and “Presentation College” and “North Dakota State.” I haven’t even heard of that last one. Not great! The best team they’ve played all year is Gonzaga, who whooped the Coyotes 102-65 on Dec. 21. SD is 1-2 against like opponents, losing to Nebraska and splitting games with Omaha.
South Dakota is among the teams that faced the worst defenses overall on the season according to KenPom (323) and hold an RPI of rank of 116. Overall they’re No. 144 according to KenPom, which gives them a luck rating of 26th. I’m not a fan of when Iowa plays teams that seem to have all the bounces go their way ...
The ‘Yotes are led by sophomore guard Matt Mooney, who’s averaging 18 points and 4 boards a night. This is his first year on the team after transferring from Air Force two years ago.
Then there’s 6-7 senior forward Tyler Flack, who’s bringing down a team-high 7 boards a night and scoring another 15 in doing so. And finally we have Trey Dickerson, who’s name you may have heard once or twice before.
The Iowa transfer is averaging 10 a night while shooting .333 from range. He’s averaging eight three-point attempts a game, so that’s something to be aware of.
Trey Burch-Manning is one last Coyote named Trey to remember. The 6-6 forward is the other big man that South Dakota trots out. He’s averaging 9 points and 6 boards a game and he’ll be the one battling with Tyler Cook and Cordell Pemsl and the like under the rim.
What Iowa has to do to win
Make no mistake, Iowa is a vastly superior team on paper compared to the Coyotes. It would take a massive letdown for the Hawkeyes to come out losers in this one, especially at home.
Unfortunately, we know this Iowa team is extremely capable of providing such a letdown.
Iowa has had about a week to rest after its early exit from the Big Ten Tournament, while South Dakota last played on March 6. Both teams will get even more rest now thanks to some dumb blizzard 1,000 miles away.
I want to think that we’ll see a run similar to the one the Hawkeyes executed during their NIT campaign in 2013, where Iowa basically left everyone in a trail of dust ... until it met Baylor.
I think this team comes out fired up tonight, in front of a good crowd with something to prove. The NIT to these players is probably like kissing their sister, and they shouldn’t be too happy with the way they got bounced by Indiana a week ago.
I envision a strong start from Iowa’s starting five, with Nicholas Baer and Cordell Pemsl coming off the bench and stepping on the metaphorical throats of everyone in their way.
There should be proper planning in case Trey Dickerson wants to make a statement of some sort in this game, but we all saw him play a couple years ago, and I wouldn’t be too worried about that.
Prediction: Iowa 84, South Dakota 76.